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A British Businessman Worked in China for Decades. Then, He Vanished.

That’s the headline on my newest story, an exclusive with my colleague Neil Western out Thurs.

It begins: <– Gift link

HONG KONG—Ian J. Stones, a British business executive, worked in China for four decades, including with big U.S. firms such as General Motors and Pfizer before setting up his own consulting firm. Then, in 2018, he disappeared from public view.

Stones has been detained in China since then with no public mention of the case from Chinese or U.K. authorities.

The quiet detention of a foreign businessman who is well known within China’s business community underscores the risks of operating in the country, which has an opaque legal system that is controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal that Stones had been sentenced to five years in prison for illegally selling intelligence to overseas parties. The ministry said he appealed his conviction but the appeal was rejected in September last year.

Informed of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s response, Stones’s daughter, Laura Stones, said neither the family nor British embassy staff had been permitted to see any of the legal documents related to the case, and therefore she couldn’t comment on the details.

“There has been no confession to the alleged crime, however my father has stoically accepted and respects that under Chinese law he must serve out the remainder of his sentence,” she said.

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